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Grangers take first loss

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

For the first time this season, the LaGrange Grangers are preparing for a game after coming off a loss.

LaGrange began the season with 17 consecutive wins, including Friday’s hard-fought 58-54 victory over Troup.

On Saturday, a little more than 12 hours after that emotional game with Troup, LaGrange took the floor against one of Class AAAA’s top teams in Sandy Creek.

It was a tough day for LaGrange, which fell behind early and was unable to recover on the way to a 75-45 loss.

The loss dropped the Grangers to 17-1 overall and 4-1 in Region 5-AAAA, and they’ll look to begin a new winning streak on Tuesday against the visiting Chapel Hill Panthers.

“The team we play Tuesday, Chapel Hill, they’re almost as equally talented as Sandy Creek,” said Mark Veal, LaGrange’s head coach. “So you just take it one game at a time, and pray for good health, and hopefully the ball bounces your way.”

In Saturday’s game, Sandy Creek jumped out to a 20-6 lead after the first quarter, and it was ahead 35-20 at the half and 56-32 after three quarters.

The 6-foot-7 Jabari Smith led Sandy Creek with 21 points, and Destin Jenkins made two of his team’s 10 three-pointers and scored 16 points.

“Jabari is highly recruited, but they’ve got guys around him that are long and can play,” Veal said. “They just cause a lot of problems.”

D.J. Burks, who is having a big senior season for the Grangers, led the home team with 21 points, and Kindae Maddox and Kobe Jones had six points apiece.

Despite Saturday’s loss, the Grangers still have one of the best records in Class AAAA, and Veal is proud of what his players have been able to accomplish so far.

“Some of these wins we’ve had, we’ve had moments in the second half where we were down, and it didn’t look very good for us,” Veal said. “Our guys showed some heart and battled back and found a way to get the W. There’s a lot of fight in our kids.”

As for the challenging of playing Sandy Creek so soon after the Troup game, Veal felt it was a learning experience for the players.

“Physically it’s a tough turnaround, no matter who you’re playing,” Veal said. “It’s a good opportunity for our kids, because when it gets to be playoff time, you never know what situation you’ll get put in. You’ve just got to be ready to bring in on any given night.”